Saranac Lake Mayor Clyde Rabideau Talks About His Decision To Retire
Saranac Lake bills itself as the “Capital of the Adirondacks.” It’s one of a trio of villages, with Lake Placid and Tupper Lake, providing the focal point for tourism and economic activity in the center of the Adirondacks. Saranac Lake has a village council-town manager form of government. While a part-time position, the mayor crucial to crafting policies and a vision for the community. Clyde Rabideau has held the post for a dozen years but on Thursday announced he will retire at the end of his term on March 31, 2022. Rabideau is also scaling back his involvement in his business.
“I've cut back on my business quite a bit. And we're going to be transitioning this year, next year and the year after to ownership by my son-in-law. But I'll still be in the business a little bit. And I intend to travel with my wife and we intend to have our grandchildren over a lot more and it should be an enjoyable time of my life and my wife's life.”
Pat Bradley: “Clyde Rabideau, you've been involved in politics for most of your adult life I would guess. How difficult was this decision?”
Rabideau: “It wasn't that difficult at all. I'll be 66 at the end of the term and it's time to explore other horizons. Yes I've been in politics since I've been 29 years old which is more than a half a lifetime ago. And being a mayor for 22 years of that time in two different places. Very, very gratifying experiences. I wouldn't trade it for anything. I'm so happy to have had the opportunity. Very thankful.”
Bradley: “When you sent out your notice saying that you're going to retire as mayor of Saranac Lake you listed quite a number of accomplishments over the dozen years that you've served in Saranac Lake. Is there anything that you feel you need to finish before you retire in March?”
Mayor Rabideau: “Well, there's a lot of things still outstanding. I wish we had enough money to get our streets all the way back up to snuff the most, one of the most basic of things to do. But it's ah we started behind the eight ball after decades of neglect. And it was just a tough road, literally, to do. We just didn't have enough money to do all the roads that we needed to do just to keep up. And the infrastructure underneath them also had to be rebuilt as well. Very expensive undertaking. And that's why it's so important for local governments to keep up with the infrastructure year in and year out. Don't let it go for five or 10 years. It'll cost you a lot more in the long run. So if I had one regret is that we couldn't do enough streets and infrastructure.”
Pat Bradley: “Can you describe maybe some of the most exciting projects that you've worked on?”
Clyde Rabideau: “Coming back from a December announcement where the economic development grants were awarded, we got $5 million for the Hotel Saranac and $2 million for the waterfront hotel, and beacons were placed at each location that day. So when I came back from Albany I made a turn through Ray Brook and I saw the beacons casting through the sky with a flutter of snow going through them and it just made my heart just spring seeing that. And it was so exciting driving into town. Everybody was buzzing and all these beacons of light in front of each place. It was just very exciting, very magical. And then when a thousand people showed up with just a few hours notice in the middle of February in front of a jumbotron at our ice palace to watch Chris Mazdzer race in the luge. That was so much fun. And people just came. A thousand people just showed up with hardly any notice to cheer on our local hero. And that's just one part of the magic of Saranac Lake. We do that kind of thing. We let people achieve their full potential whether it's in the arts, or academia, whatever, even in business. People come here and they can express themselves freely. We have a great community where you can do that. And that's really the essence of Saranac Lake.”
Bradley: “Clyde Rabideau, you do still have about seven months left in your term. What sorts of projects are you going to be focusing on during that time?”
Rabideau: “Well we're going to get these DRI projects jumpstarted. We're going to reach for that silver designation for being climate smart. And we're going to plan for more of that infrastructure we talked about earlier. So that's quite a plateful right there. We want to finish strong. Keep doing the work of the people for next few months while other candidates are putting together their campaigns and going out to meet the people of Saranac Lake. It's going to be a great election. There'll be two trusteeships open and the mayoralty and it should be a great election. People have plenty of time to get prepared for it right now.”
Pat Bradley: “So are you going to sit back from politics completely? Or do you see yourself...”
Mayor Rabideau: “Oh yeah. Oh, I would love to envision myself sitting back as an elder statesman. But I'll just be watching from the sidelines cheering everybody on. I've had my day. I've had my say and my record speaks for itself. In all, time to reflect but also enjoy life.”
Saranac Lake Mayor Clyde Rabideau will retire at the end of his term in March. He also served five two-year terms as mayor of Plattsburgh beginning in 1989.